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Governments issue municipal bonds, often called munis, when they need money at the state or local level. While not impossible, the chances of most municipalities going bankrupt are low. Plus, governments can raise taxes or sell new bonds to help cover the costs of the old ones, making this one of the best investments you can make.
The interest paid on municipal bonds is generally exempt from federal and state income taxes. So, when you combine the tax savings and higher returns, municipal bonds often provide higher realized rates of return than similar investments that are subject to income taxes.
In addition to buying individual bonds, exposure to municipal bonds can also be gained through the purchase of certain mutual funds and ETFs. Online investment platforms like Vanguard can help you get started. They essentially operate as a type of mutual fund and are composed of liquid financial products with short maturities and high credit ratings. These assets often include short-term debt securities like CDs and U. Treasury Bills. The goal of a money market fund is to provide investors with ongoing income while protecting their principal investment.
Like with mutual funds, each investor owns shares. Interest on the investment is then paid out to shareholders as dividends. Remember, money market funds and money market accounts are two completely different investment options. Unlike money market accounts, money market funds are not FDIC insured. If you think money market funds may be a good option for you, you can find them at investment platforms like Vanguard.
Are you a homeowner looking for a relatively safe way to invest? Paying off your mortgage early could be one of the best investments you can make — especially if you live in an area where housing prices remain relatively stable. Paying off your house early can do some really important things for you.
First, it saves you some significant interest charges. Every dollar you pay beyond your monthly minimum payment should count toward lowering your principal balance. Additionally, knocking your mortgage out early eliminates a huge chunk of debt and a major monthly expense. Things like investing more in the stock market, starting your own business, and learning how to invest in real estate suddenly become easier.
Owning your home free and clear reduces your risk in other ways, too. If you get sick, fired, or experience any other major financial hardship, you just need enough money to keep the lights on and food on the table. At a bare minimum, be sure to meet any company match that is offered.
While many people consider this one of the safest investments you can make, keep in mind that none of these ideas come with zero risk. However, if you plan to stay in your home for a long time, this is one of our favorite ways to invest money. Although spending to save will never make you rich, spending on a credit card can come with some fairly nice perks. Cash back credit cards typically reward your spending with straight cash back.
If you use it to spend on the things you normally would anyway like groceries, restaurants, daycare, or utility bills , you could earn a decent amount in cash back rewards. Rewards cards typically provide points for your spending. Our favorite type of cards are travel rewards cards , but rewards points can usually be redeemed for gift cards, travel, cash, and more.
Even better, when you create a new account, both types of cards usually provide a signup bonus. Here are a couple of our favorite cards:. Learn how to apply Read the full review. Trust us, the interest payments are usually far more expensive than any rewards or cash back you received. Bank bonuses are another way to cash in on high returns with low risk. Banks are always competing for your cash, and some will reward you with free money for opening a new checking or savings account.
In fact, most of these signup bonuses are worth an extra few hundred dollars to new account holders. After you open your account, you might need to set up direct deposit, use your new debit card for a certain number of transactions, or keep your money there for six months or more.
Not all banks have these rules, but always check the costs before signing up for a checking or savings account bonus. Peer-to-peer lending P2P gives you the opportunity to be one. P2P lending is a little like owning your own bank, albeit without taking deposits from the public. In a nutshell, you lend your money to someone else who will hopefully pay you back.
Lending Club and Prosper are two websites that allow you to make personal loans to borrowers. Websites like Groundfloor help you cash in on the lending side for real estate deals. The ongoing income and capital appreciation of your investment also help reduce the adverse effects of inflation. Dividends typically can be used to buy more stock in the same company with a dividend reinvestment plan, or DRIP. Depending on your investment goals, it might make sense to take the dividend as income, but reinvesting dividends as part of your growth strategy may also work well for you.
Upon maturity, annuities typically provide you with income that can last for the rest of your life. Annuities come with either fixed or variable rates. With a fixed annuity, your money accumulates a guaranteed interest rate for a specific period of time. This means they often come with some relatively hefty commissions, depending on the product. Additional fees could further increase your costs and lower your overall investment return. With the recent market volatility and the disappearance of workplace pensions, annuities can be a great addition to a retirement portfolio.
Of course, that guarantee is based on the health of the company where you bought the annuity. Just like with most insurance policies, you may be stuck if the company goes out of business. Even with that risk, however, many people believe annuities are relatively safe investments that can bring stability to their portfolios.
Owning preferred stock may be another way that you can add additional stability to your portfolio. Preferred stock is different from common stock, and it typically trades far less frequently. Preferred stock still provides ownership in a company, but it typically pays out guaranteed dividends that are usually higher than those paid to common stockholders. This is essential when the company falls on bad times. If a company suspends its dividends entirely, your preferred stock will be paid dividends in arrears before any is paid to common stockholders.
Though generally considered to have less risk than common stock, you may be able to further reduce your risk by including some diversity in your preferred stock portfolio. Preferred stocks can usually be traded at your favorite online investment brokers. With a core goal of providing stable returns even during tough economic times, stable value funds are one of the best low-risk investments available. Instead, like money market funds, their value remains stable. Stable value funds are made up of investment contracts that are designed to guard your capital against significant variations in interest rates.
Their holdings typically include short and medium-term government and corporate bonds. Since they typically hold bonds with a longer maturity date than money market funds, stable value funds are often able to provide higher interest rates. Stable value funds are also insured, protecting investors from losing both their principal and interest. Overall, stable value funds are fairly low-risk investments that come with a diversified portfolio of high-quality investments. With the contracts from banks and insurance companies helping to protect your capital against drops in interest rates, these are generally considered to be relatively safe investments.
You can often find these funds as an option with company sponsored retirement plans like a k. When it comes to investing, higher risk is often associated with higher performance. However, if your goal is to keep as much of your original principal as possible, low-risk investments are sure to make you smile.
Thanks so much for reading and good luck! Do you invest in any of the above methods? Share your experiences below! Greg Johnson is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and an expert in personal finance, family travel, and credit card rewards. Greg travels the world for about 20 weeks each year and has visited over 40 countries.
He holds two bachelor's degrees, is a licensed travel insurance agent in Indiana, and is the co-author of the book Zero Down Your Debt. Learn more about Greg here. Systemic Risk and Systematic Value. LOG IN. Log into your account. Recover your password. Share on Facebook. Six ways to estimate realized volatility. Inflation as equity trading signal. Equity convexity and gamma strategies. Predicting volatility with neural networks. How to estimate factor exposure, risk premia, and discount factors.
How to construct a bond volatility index and extract market information. Asset return volatility is typically calculated as annualized standard deviation of returns over a sequence of periods, usually daily from close to close. Duration volatility risk premia Editor - May 28, Duration volatility risk premium means compensation for bearing return volatility risk of an interest rate swap IRS contract. It is the scaled difference between Inflation as equity trading signal Editor - May 14, Academic research suggests that high and rising consumer price inflation puts upward pressure on real discount rates and is a headwind for equity market All rights reserved.
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High-yield savings accounts. Series I savings bonds. Short-term certificates of deposit.